StarSilver: Old age – Are we there yet?


It's every woman's right to be awesome. Women over 60 are not too old to defy expectations or to elicit prickles of envy. Photo: 123rf

Who cares about wrinkles nowadays? I do (gulp). I try ironing them out with the creme de la creme of creams to keep them at bay. Sometimes what makes us feel good can have a profound effect. And so it is with feminine maintenance. It may sound somewhat vainglorious but we trust our female intuition to love ourselves right. Becoming old is up to you.

There's something to be said for persistence and optimism. They are qualities personified by ladies who would not take ageing lying down. It is hard to express the madness involved in trying to do some damage control to what gravity has wrought. Still, it's not that daunting if you look around and see what other people have to deal with.

Behold: The power of the mirror.

A glimpse of myself in the mirror on an average day can rattle my inner peace. Who's that with the petrified look that resembles me? On a hot humid day, I would look perpetually electrocuted as my flyaway hair succumbs to static easily. After waging countless skirmishes with my hair over the years, I have established a sort of truce in hair battle – and let my hair win.

Indeed it's hard to be devil-may-care when the age spots that form ever so surreptitiously, can be connected like dots to form the letter J. Metamorphosing from crumbly to comic. Physical ageing on the skin is what it is. Get used to it.

The writer and poet Judith Viorst said this of old age vanity: "The price of vanity is steep. But I've no time to whine and weep, and pounds to lose before I sleep."

Self-perception is contagious. Don't be a whiner. Be a winner. Catch glimpses of yourself in a blessed home, hear echoes of laughter, and speak victory over your life.

We should feel less gut-busting about ageing, and forge ahead with the true life force within ourselves and engage with it.

And even as I write this, our illustrious Michelle Yeoh receives yet another big honour – the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in Washington, DC. It's the country's highest civilian honour for "individuals who have made exemplary contributions".

Our Academy Award-winning actress is our beaming pride. Her inimitable success is legendary. We do need role models like her to promote women's self-esteem. There are always avenues for incredible achievements and self-belief at any age.

Michelle Yeoh receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, earlier this month. Photo: AFPMichelle Yeoh receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, earlier this month. Photo: AFP

It's every woman's right to be awesome. Women over 60 are not too old to defy expectations or to elicit prickles of envy. Everything becomes clearer when you understand what you really want out of your one and precious life.

The idea that in old age things become dull and insipid, is outdated, and does not hold water in modern times. Old age may be a raggedy journey but you can swipe away the nagging self-doubts with one big heave of courage and optimism.

The thing is, how do you get the old engine humming with zest and vigour? Do I miss my youthful body that can squat without a tightening pain at the knees? Yes, indeed.

The writer Doris Grumbach wrote of her experience when she was 70: "My ankles have weakened. I am always in fear of slipping, stumbling, and being hurt when I fall."

Truly, old age comes to all but at different rates to different people. It is important to maintain a balance between looking good and keeping healthy. We all aim to age with dignity, facing each challenge unflinchingly.

I come from a line of ladies who would do savage battle to secure some scraps of what we used to look like. We're unapologetically enamoured with "magic" potions.

Sometimes our vain ploys might seem like pathetic bravado to others. But among the ladies of my kindred tribe, we actually exhort one another in our feminine endeavour, and to pay attention to grooming. Women supporting women – how propelling is that?

Taking care of one's appearance is a sign of enthusiasm for life, a pride in oneself. And I'm not above the art of camouflage, often devising cunning ways to look a tad younger. As we get older, preening and slathering on cream may seem like extravagance, but we deserve to love ourselves right.

Yet when I reached my 60s, a combination of maturity, practicality and acceptance, conspires to diminish the consistency at the whole rigmarole of skincare routine, and let things slide a bit. I garner a mite of mojo, a smidgen of boldness, and a boatload of humour to just go with the flow.

With self-assurance as our armour, we stand on our core values to live bold, brave and boundless. We will write our gutsy manifesto on tablets, and embrace the mystique of older women.

An English proverb has it that "good things come to those who wait". In ageing, crinkling comes to those who wait too long.

Wrinkles may be inevitable but fretting is optional; ageing is a reality but wallowing is a reaction. Why be downcast when you could be grateful for the years? A smile is the easiest facelift. And the brain runs best on joy – that's how I hang on to my sweet sanity.

Today, I will step up to the mirror and see myself with new eyes. I will love my hair even as it remains my pet peeve. I will love my crinkly self because what really matters is what dwells inside this carapace. For surely I'm lit from within, and I'm going to let it shine.

Mary Eu is a retiree who has a passion for writing. When she is not prowling the shopping mall looking for a dress to scream into, she can be seen reading, writing or home decorating.

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